May 23, 2013

Conservatives struggling to expand IRS scandal – so far

Conservatives hoping someone high up ordered the targeting – or even knew about it – have yet to find any the evidence they're looking for.

The Associated Press

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., center, leans over to speak with Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, during the committee's hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is at lower right, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, is at lower left. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., listens at center left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, left office in November, when his five-year term expired.

Lerner was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Her appearance was brief. She read an opening statement in which she denied any wrongdoing. Then she refused to answer questions, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination.

"I have not done anything wrong," Lerner said. "I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee."

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said he might recall her. He and other Republicans say they believe she forfeited her Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify by giving an opening statement in which she proclaimed her innocence, but several law professors were skeptical lawmakers could make that stick.

Lerner, a career civil servant, is still in her position at the IRS.

J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration, has blamed ineffective management for allowing agents to improperly target conservative groups for so long.

On Wednesday, he hinted there may be more revelations to come. He told the oversight committee that his office has since uncovered other questionable criteria used by agents to screen applications for tax-exempt status. But he refused to elaborate.

"As we continue our review of this matter, we have recently identified some other BOLOs that raised concerns about political factors," George said. "I can't get into more detail at this time as to the information that is there because it's still incomplete."


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